Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Work Hangover Wednesday: Gluteus Minimus, Flashus Maximus

After a three month reprieve, my hot flashes are back with a vengeance. Not sure why they suddenly decided to come back, but the past two nights I've been unable to get comfortable, keep waking up in a sweat, throwing the covers off until I cool down.

I got dehydrated over the past few days. Between the hot flashes and not drinking enough while at work, and for some reason, peeing a lot, I felt funny this morning when I decided to go out and test my back with running.

I took Iris out first and then brought her home. I went back out to do a loop that's about 6 1/2 miles, because I only had about an hour until I had to leave for Loveland. I did fine for the first 45 minutes, it was a warm morning. My back was okay, I felt some intermittent numbness in my leg and hip, mostly in the left hamstring and around the front of my hip, but it didn't seem to be affecting my gait.

I started aching in my hips, though, both sides, and felt really weak all of a sudden. I stopped under a tree in some shade and felt dizzy, like I would pass out. I held myself up on a street sign.

Once that passed, I started running again, and about 5 minutes later the same thing happened. Again, I let it pass, I was only 2 miles from home. I ended up stopping three times on the way home in the last twenty minutes of the run, and walked for a minute each time, I kept feeling so weak and dizzy. Each time I had to stop and hang on to some object because I wasn't sure if I could stay upright.

Then I remembered the hot flashes, and not drinking enough, and decided that as soon as I got home I'd weigh myself to see if it was dehydration. I got the scale out of the closet. Five pounds down. I was 125, and I've been consistently weighing 130 lately. So I started pounding the fluids, blended up a maradol papaya with orange juice and ice and two S-Caps, and I'll keep drinking.

I iced my back to be safe. I got 8 miles in this morning, and I'll go out for another 4 or 5 this evening once I rehydrate. Seems like the dehydration was a lot bigger issue than any muscle strains.

I did my day at work Tuesday, and my back held up well. The only things I couldn't do were bending over and picking things up off the floor unless I squatted, which is hard enough to do anyway, but you really don't want to do that if your scrub pants are even a little bit tight.

At work yesterday it was a slow morning and occasionally if it's slow, the oncology massage therapist will come over and ask the nurses if they want a neck or shoulder massage. She brings her chair over and works on us. It's one of those rare things but yesterday it couldn't have been better timing. My 11:00 patient didn't show up and I got a massage.

I told her about the muscle strain in my back and as she worked on me, gently, she told me she thought it was my gluteus minimus that was injured, she could feel a swollen area, and it made sense given the way I've been feeling through my butt and around my hip. Sitting for long periods of time is uncomfortable, I start to feel a little numbness down the back of my leg, which gets better once I stand up and start walking.

I was relieved to hear that I have a gluteus minimus. All this time I would said I have a gluteus maximus, that is expanding with age. I'm all for being minimalistic when it comes to my glutes.

Today I went out for lunch with my friend Pam, whom I haven't seen in quite a while. We always do sushi when we get together, we both love it. This time we went to a place in Loveland that I haven't been to. It was good. And even better to see Pam and catch up on things. While we were eating, it was a little warm in the restaurant, with bright sun coming in, but I started having a hot flash. The sushi wasn't even that spicy, but suddenly I was sweating.

I'll try to be consistent this week with the running and cycling as long as my back, butt, and legs can handle it. A nap or two wouldn't hurt either.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Roadkill for Breakfast

This morning was a California day. It started out really overcast and drizzly, then the sky cleared up by mid-morning.

Got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Probably because my body is all messed up on one side. Same side as the hamstring, except now it's my back and butt too.

Yesterday I did something really stupid. I was taking a picture of the girls and had to lift them up, then take them down from this tractor. I was taking them for a walk and saw this. It's my mom instinct, wanting to take cute pictures of my kids.

So I'm not sure if I did it while lifting them up there or taking them down, but I strained my back and by the time I got them both down and started walking home, I was in serious pain. As soon as I got home I took some ibuprofen and made an ice pack, iced the crap out of my back. I was scared, I hoped I didn't do any serious damage.

As the day went on, I could feel the pain through the ibuprofen, but I did a bike ride in the rain anyway, because I felt like I needed to move. I knew running would only aggravate it. The bike ride didn't feel bad except every time I went over a bump, I could feel it in my back. It hurt.

After an easy 30 mile ride I came home and iced again, continued with ibuprofen, and kept getting down on the floor, lying down flat to ice my back and using Iris's duck to prop up my other butt cheek so I'd be even on the floor.

By the end of the day it was apparent that I didn't do any serious damage but I was sore and stiff as hell on that one side. Trying to heal this thing quickly is my priority. I could kick myself, how dumb of me, finally I have a decent week of running and then I ruined it doing something stupid.

So...I decided to call off work for Monday just to spend more time icing and taking it easy. Work involves a lot of twisting and bending, always working in tight spaces. I thought if I give it another 24 hours to settle down that will help keep the inflammation down, then I can work on Tuesday.

When I woke up this morning I was stiff and was having a hard time getting up and down into a chair and couldn't bend over to hug the girls. It doesn't hurt a lot, but when I hyperextend or twist it hurts the muscles all the way around to my ribs on the left side, and my butt. I'm so pissed at myself! I'm sure it will loosen up with activity.

In addition to being annoyed with myself for being stupid again, I feel growly and snarly and irritable. Not really in the mood for anything.

Then, I destroyed my laptop screen this morning, somehow, carrying it from the woman cave into the house. I don't know what I did, but it's cracked and I am going to have to wait a week for the part to come in, so until then I am staring at an old monitor screen that I bought for $20.

Before I ruined my laptop screen, I canceled my plans to go to Wisconsin and run the 12 hour race in the end of August. Not because of my back, but because I keep running into glitches, and the back strain was just one more glitch, so maybe it wasn't meant to be.

First the airlines changed the return flight on me. The nonstop flight from Milwaukee to Denver that I made reservations on was cancelled, and changed to two flights with a layover in Kansas City that would make it a long travel day. I have to go back to work on Labor Day Monday and I'd be trashed. So that wasn't very appealing. I was going to do it anyway, but then...

I had trouble making hotel reservations. There's some huge Harley Davidson event near Milwaukee at that time and every hotel was completely booked. I called around to half a dozen hotels and no luck. I wish the race director would have mentioned this in the race info, I would have made reservations a long time ago, but I'm not sure if that would have made a difference.

The way things have not come together easily, I think the universe is telling me not to go. I can always do my own 12 hour training run here. That's probably what I'll end up doing.

But I am looking forward to next Saturday, and I'm not even racing. It's Wheaties Boy's triathlon debut at Boulder Reservoir. I'm going to meet Megan (aka Mrs. Wheaties Boy) at the reservoir and go cheer for him at as many different places along the route as we can.

And then this morning I got this e-mail with a vaguely familiar looking subject heading: Congratulations you have been admitted... I didn't think it looked like a virus, so I opened it. I wondered, since being a nurse, admitted usually means someone is going into a hospital or some other care facility. Someone wants to admit me to a psych facility, maybe?

Actually it was from University of Northern Colorado. In June I applied to the gerontology graduate program. I already forgot all about it! I was thinking about taking four courses for a certificate in gerontology.

I think I'd still like to do it, but I might wait to start until January. The classes are all online and not self-paced, so I'd have to stick to a rigid class schedule and that's a bummer, especially with going on vacation in the beginning, and my race schedule.

School is about as appealing to me as eating roadkill for breakfast. Realistically, I am looking at a good 15 to 20 years of working life left and I know I have to expand on my current knowledge base somehow, and this is definitely an area of knowledge and skill that is much needed out there.

So...whether I start this fall or postpone starting until January, it's something I think could be worthwhile. Except for the part about higher education being big business and way too expensive. Six thousand dollars is a lot to fork over, when you consider that I could run Badwater for that, and have a lot more fun than the slow torture of jumping through academic hoops for two years.

So much of it is bullshit. I'd like to skip the bullshit and take only the substance. Is the substance-only option cheaper? Just give me the damn syllabus and I'll teach myself, okay?

Maybe this isn't such a good idea...

I think I'll go back to bed and see which side I wake up on tomorrow.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Twenty Mile Tree

If I run to this tree from my house and back, it's 20 miles.

This is one of my favorite trees in Larimer County. It sits all by itself at the top of a hill in a field of weeds, in Fossil Creek Reservoir natural area between Fort Collins, Windsor and Loveland. It's dying a slow death, each year there are more dead limbs, but it's still an impressive old cottonwood, and it will hang on until the last leaf falls off someday.

Not getting any taller, spreading wider, but reaching out with limbs outstretched like it's trying to take in everything in the time it has left.

Sort of like an aging runner.

Today I ran exactly 20.5 miles, because I ran all the way to the picnic area by Fossil Creek Reservoir and took a little break in the shade to eat a Lara bar and drink some water before I went home.

Hamstring was good, no problems there. I ran an average pace of about 10 and a half minute miles, and it took a little over 3 1/2 hours. Easy pace, nothing hard, just relaxing the whole way and listening to music, something I haven't done for a while.

Didn't have to walk a single step, kept shuffling along comfortably, and even had the energy to push the hills on the way back. A good run.

When I got done I wasn't tired, I felt good, like I had plenty of miles left in me. That's encouraging. I think last month's marathons did help me maintain something. On the way back I was considering some detours to make it longer, but I kept myself from doing that, thinking I should see how the hamstring handles 20 miles before I start pushing beyond.

I thought about things on my run today. It was a good feeling to be out there alone for a few hours, I processed my thoughts and got some good ideas for writing.

I got to thinking about the sport of ultrarunning again, it's been on my mind and yesterday I saw a Facebook post that got me grinding the brain gears again. Andy Jones-Wilkins posted something on this blog that prompted me to comment.

Our local paper has been following my friend, PI teammate and 2008 Badwater crewmember Nick Clark in his quest to break the Grand Slam record this summer. I'm happy to see the newspaper covering ultrarunners as athletes and not as crazy extremist freaks as often happens in the media. In my monthly column I've been sticking to ultra topics in hope of showing the public that it's not out of the norm to want to challenge yourself in ways you never imagined were possible.

To Andy's blogpost, this is what I replied:

Been thinking about this topic myself a lot lately. Growth of the sport is always hard for us old timers because we get nostalgic about the "good old days", and often have a hard time accepting the changes that the newer, younger initiates bring. I love that ultrarunning is getting more attention in the press as a legitimate sport and not as a crazy extremist pursuit. At the same time, I roll my eyes at the "Facebook generation" and the narcissism and exhibitionism that goes along with one-upping everyone else. I love the sport and just want it to continue, and sometimes I can be a bit protective when I fear someone might do something stupid to endanger its future. Ultrarunning is still a sport that is not open to all- it's expensive, requires lots of disposable income and leisure time, and self-focused energy, so it's not really available to all for full participation. And women get very little recognition in their contributions to the sport. It's hard to get into so many races because there are so many participants competing just for an entry slot! But...records were made to be broken, change is hard, curmudgeons will be curmudgeonly, and I figure my part in it is to encourage people to participate and challenge themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually to the fullest extent possible, and that all are athletes and make a valuable contribution by example, not just the fastest, wealthiest, and best-looking. There's good and bad in everything and ultrarunning is that way too. But I love it, and I'm a lifer...

Every sport has its good and bad qualities. The things I think about as an ultrarunner have to do with preserving the sport for the long haul, safety, and making it accessible and welcoming to people who might never have thought they could be an ultrarendurance athlete. I think it's great that young people are taking up the sport, that there is a proliferation of trail running- and I wish the same for road running and multiday running too, eventually.

I would like to see more opportunities for older people to stay in the sport with generous time cutoffs and fixed time events. I'd like the contributions of women to the sport to be recognized instead of everyone focusing on the few fast guys. It would be nice to honor the efforts of people who had a long struggle and had to work extra hard to achieve what they have, whether it was overcoming obesity and a sedentary lifestyle and upbringing, struggles with addiction, self-esteem issues, economic disadvantage, health issues, and more.

It's one thing to have running talent, but quite another to have the determination to change your life and go beyond anything you ever dreamed possible when the odds are stacked against you. Some ultrarunners I admire in this respect are Heather Whiteside Ward, Bard Parnell, David Clark, and Alex May.

I'm one of the relative old-timers in ultrarunning at this point, though there are still more than a handful of people who were in it for 10 or more years before I was. Ultrarunning is a sport that has only been around in the U.S. for a short time. Since I started in the sport at a fairly young age compared to the majority of runners who were doing it at the time, if all goes well I will be one of the longer lived ultrarunners by the time I keel over. At least that's my plan, if I live to be an old fart.

The hardest thing for me as an ultrarunner has always been my lack of financial independence, because if I could afford it, I would be running across the US, running Badwater multiple times every year, traveling all over the world to check out different places to run. I'd be off on new adventures all the time. But I make the best of what I can do. And you never know what the future holds, as long as I have my health.

I'm hoping I'm less than halfway through my ultrarunning longevity at this point, 22 years into it. I'm not one of the fastest, and my claim to fame might be the longest time taken to complete a 100 mile run at age 95, but I'd be okay with that.

That's a lot of thinking for just 20 miles. I can't wait for the next long run!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to Running, Back to Life

Maybe all I needed was a good workout or two, some naps, and a few margaritas, but I feel like myself again. So far this week every day that I wasn't working I ran at least 10 miles, and three days I rode the bike 20 or more miles. All that's left is the weekend and I'm planning on a long run even if all I can do is shuffle. I need to get back to it, it's the end of July!

I was tired, three hour naps have been part of my afternoons all week, plus sleeping through the night. I wanted to go up to Estes Park today but sleep won, I think I'll have to skip it this week, do a long run here, and find a day next week to go back up there. I don't like to go up there on the weekends in the summer because the highway is jammed and everybody and their left nut is on the trail. Not worth it if you want peace and quiet.

The hamstring is feeling better as the week progresses. I'm still afraid to pick up the pace but I have plenty of time. I'm 14 weeks out from the 24 hour race, which allows for a two week taper and 12 weeks of training if I count this week as the beginning. I should end up with roughly 60-70 miles of running and about 100 miles on the bike this week. I'll continue with the bike as long as the weather allows, keep building the running miles, and see how the hamstring does. I can always do Tabata and intervals on the bike if I need to. It's the fitness I need, not the running speed.

Next week Wheaties Boy is doing his first triathlon ever, a half Ironman, and I want to go down to Boulder and catch some of it. Not sure how much I'll get to see but I'd like to at least see part of the ride and run segments. I have been considering doing some swimming this coming winter. I have no desire whatsoever to do triathlons though. I'm a runner.

I have a hard time getting my act together to go to the pool and it's been about 25 years since I've done any real swimming in a pool, so I'm sure I will be the world's worst swimmer. Wheaties Boy claims he was the world's worst swimmer when he started. If he can do a mile open water swim he can't be that bad. My goal would be to go from the world's worst to just bad.

As long as my hamstring continues on this improvement trajectory, I will go ahead and run in Wisconsin next month and get as long of a training run as possible there. For now I need to start getting more long days in to build the strength that pays off in the 24 hour. I also need to get some hill training in consistently.

I don't need to do too many super long runs before October but I need to get something in, 30-40 miles should be plenty. I'll do one in early August and one more in late September. Between those two long runs and the 12 hour run in Wisconsin I should be okay. The consistent 20+ mile days are more important anyway. Recovering from longer runs, especially if they are hard, is what takes away from training.

My strategy in October's race will be something like shuffling as much as possible and keeping the walking to a minimum to get as many forward miles as possible. On that course, with the three hills, there will be enough places to do planned walks, that if I can keep moving at a steady slow shuffle those little hills shouldn't be much of an issue.

We're making progress on the yard, two beds built, three to go, and I planted two more trees in the middle of the grass today, one on each side of the yard. We got some good rain earlier this week and I'm hoping for more. The new apricot and apple trees are growing and we haven't had to water all that much.

It will be next year before we can plant anything in them, but I'm excited to get back to real gardening. I can't believe it's already the end of July. I'm starting to think about next year and this year hasn't even happened yet. I did two things this week to prepare for next year: put in time off requests for the first week in April in case I get into Umstead 100 or American River 50, and for the middle of July so I can go out to work medical at Badwater next summer. There's talk of a 24/48/6 day race on a climate-controlled indoor 400 meter track in Alaska next summer, but I'm not so sure I want to go all the way to Alaska and then run indoors.

I need an adventure.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dawn of the Dead

I survived the work week from hell, and I could not wait to get moving again, as in, running and moving forward on my feet, outside, in the fresh air, outside of the confines of our cramped, windowless little work dungeon.

When I got off work Sunday night my feet hurt, and my legs ached. It's one thing to keep moving, but all this new charting stuff has me standing there. There aren't a lot of opportunities to actually sit down. It's hard to stand in one place for so long, even if I try to shift my weight and move around, it kills my legs. I should have worn compression socks to work this week, I didn't even think of that.

Around 2 or 3 am I woke up with pain in both calves. It felt like my veins were going to explode. I wondered if I was getting varicose veins from my job. I went back to sleep.

This morning Dennis's alarm woke me up at 6, and I wasn't ready to wake up. I wasn't quite sure if I was alive, or just dreaming. I tried to go back to sleep but that wasn't working, so I got up, had coffee, and dragged my butt out the door with Iris.
Iris was more interested in a wild leash dance than a walk, so we went a few blocks and then she decided to turn around and head for home. It was already getting warm. I did some core work and a few pushups.

The woman cave looked inviting this morning but I had too many things I needed to do. Workouts were my top priority, despite my exhaustion.

I drank a protein shake and then went out with a frozen bottle of water. The plan was to get 10 miles for the day. It was already heating up and humid by Colorado standards, and I was suffering, mostly because my legs were so dead from standing on them for so many hours this weekend. During the run I had to stop a few times just to give my legs a break. They were toast.

After 7 miles I was done, I felt like I was barely moving. I figured I could get a few more miles in the evening if I had the energy. I went home, did a few errands, and then I was meeting Troy for a bike ride at 1 pm. While I was waiting to go I fell asleep on the couch.

The 20 minute nap refreshed me somewhat. When he showed up we rode out to Cottonwood Glen park and then up north by the cement plant and lake north of town, then back to my house, a little more than 31 miles. It was 90 degrees when we finished. All my water bottles thawed and got hot.

I went over to Sprouts to buy food for dinner and Dennis texted me to say he was on his way home and wanted to run. Perfect opportunity to get my miles in. I was hot, sweaty and more tired than I was in the morning, but I made myself go. We did 3 miles, I whined the whole way, but when we finished I had over 10 for the day. Not a peep out of the hamstring.

Now I feel much better, and I should be able to sleep too. I can't wait to feel human again. I wonder how many days that will take?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sandwich Day: Partying with the Girls

I have two more days of epic hell this weekend before I go back to my normal schedule. So I'm enjoying my one day off with my girls.

I went for a run this morning, first I took Iris out, because Isabelle didn't want to go. We've figured out that she's not a morning person, she likes to go in the evening. Then I went out and got 10.6 miles in. No problem with the hamstring, again, slow, but not too slow. My legs felt pretty good. I slept well last night, got to bed early too.

I survived my first three days of work with the new charting system. It's extremely frustrating because there are so many kinks to be worked out, and what I want to do is get my patients in and out in a reasonable amount of time, and it just doesn't work that way. The charting part itself is easy. It's not a bad setup, it's just that between working with the lab and the blood bank and the pharmacy, everyone is trying to figure out how the new system works together with other departments, and it's been a big pain in the butt.

There's so much new information that it's easy to get overwhelmed and lost in what you're doing. There are twice as many people around because of all the helpers. Everyone is talking and asking questions and you're trying to get your work done and pay attention to your basic task you're doing at the moment, and there are so many interruptions, it's a nurse's worst nightmare. Fortunately we've had enough staff lately that we don't get overloaded with patients too, on top of everything else.

Whenever they decide to do things like this, it seems like they never consider what it actually does to the patient to caregiver interaction, where the most important work in health care is done. At least I think it's the most important work in health care. But we all know what the bottom line really is and who it benefits.

I know eventually we'll get to be as efficient with this system as we were with the old one, but until that happens, we're all going to be frustrated. And I feel bad for the patients because they are the ones who are being inconvenienced. Sometimes technology just sucks and that's all there is to it.

So other than my run, I'm not doing much except laundry, dishes, cooking, and other mindless stuff around the house. I'm close to brain dead and I need to save what's left of my brain to get through the next two days.
Isabelle, in addition to not being a morning person, doesn't enjoy cuddling and getting close as much as Iris does. Sometimes I can't help myself and I need to get some Bella kisses. But then I need to leave her alone. She likes to hang out, but at a distance.

What happens when you have enough raspberries from the garden to eat, but not enough to really do anything with them?

You turn an ordinary margarita into a raspberry margarita.

Then you share it with the girls.

At the woman cave, it's Friday Afternoon Club again.

Iris finishing up her margarita.

Our garden is doing well. We finally got some good rain yesterday, and the spaghetti squash I planted is turning out some monsters. They seem to be doubling in size every day. I'm sure I'll be coming up with some creative spaghetti squash recipes this fall.

Okay, just two more 12 hour days of this. Deep breath. I can do it. Psyching myself up. But I'd much rather spend those 24 hours running around in circles, anywhere, in any conditions, as long as it's outdoors in running gear instead of in our cramped little windowless dungeon in scrubs.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Saying Goodbye to the Girls' Section

Maybe it's my general feeling of the doldrums, maybe it's the dog days of summer a little early, maybe it's feeling sorry for myself for not being in Death Valley, maybe it's my general affect toward work and related things lately, maybe it's my hamstring that won't allow me to do what I want to do.

But I found myself doing some retail therapy today. I haven't spent any money on clothing for a long time. I decided it was time to splurge a little and perk up my summer wardrobe since summer is halfway over. I hate shopping for anything, but if I'm in the mood for looking for clothes, I like to go to REI, where I buy most of my non-running, non-working clothes. I usually don't need much for clothes anyway since I am either in scrubs or running gear 90 percent of the time.

I ended up buying three dresses and 4 new tank tops. Most of them on sale, and I didn't even do much damage to the checking account. Not even two hundred dollars. I used my dividend, too, which helped. I bought a running dress, too! Imagine that! I'm sure I won't be running in it, but I love the fabric, it's so cool. I imagine I might wear it running on the beach, though. I'm long past the days of being able to run in a bikini. And I wouldn't subject the world to the sight of that, either!
I always visit the kids section, but I'm starting to get to the point with my expanded body, where the girls' stuff doesn't fit as well as it used to. I can wear extra large girls' shirts as long as there are no seams that bind around the chest. It's not even my chest that's the problem, it's my back. I'm getting wider.

My body is doing things completely on its own, without permission from me. When did it get so uppity and decide it was in control? All of my clothes are getting tighter. I'm having to change to adult medium sizes where I always fit into smalls. I take up more room in the clothes! Not fair!

It's really hard, no matter how much I think I have been able to avoid the body image crap to which so many women are slaves, it still affects me, I'm not completely immune to it. I did read this article the other day, thanks to Heather Whiteside Ward, an ultrarunner in Alabama whom I know, she shared this and I think it should be required reading for women athletes.

I was good, though, when I was in the dressing room trying on the clothes, I did not get annoyed with myself for the extra flesh in places that used to be flesh-free. I did not criticize myself for being fat here, and there. I simply got a bigger size and covered it up and looked for the telltale signs of being in clothing that was too young for me...the tiny bulge of flesh over the top of my bra in back, adjacent to my armpits. Just enough that it can be seen if the shirt or bra is too tight. I could call them baby back boobs, but I don't want to be that cruel. And then there's the soft, menopausal belly pouch that can't be sucked in anymore. It's there.

I need to let go of the need to have control over every little thing my body does. I just want to stay fit and be able to run well, and I need to remember that running well might change definition as I get older. I have to figure out what goals are realistic. I live in a completely different body than I did 6 years ago, 3 years ago, and even one year ago. I need to not do that self-hating crap that I always tried to avoid doing, that I see women my own age and older doing to themselves.

So I'm going to try really hard to let go, see what other modifications I can make with my eating, but I do know that once my training picks up things will get easier. I tried the Joe Fejes thing and it doesn't work for me. Starving and calorie restriction does not work for me. I thought I was doing really well and then my body decided to gain weight anyway.

I did run 10 miles yesterday, all easy, and I'm on target to do the same today, I ran easy this morning and when Dennis gets home from work I'm getting his butt out the door to run with me. The hamstring feels good, but I'm being careful and not pushing the pace at all.

I survived Monday, and tomorrow I start the real deal...four of the next five long days spent at work, surrounded by too many hovering computer geeks, kindly helping us out, but still, taking up too much space in our cramped little area and messing with my claustrophobic tendencies. I need my personal space, at least an arm's length, please. I wonder what would happen if I started offering them breath mints. It's too much torture to even think about it.

I feel like I'm moving into a new phase...from RPB to CDMB: Chocolate-deprived menopausal bitch? Could that be my new alter ego? Actually I'm not really chocolate deprived, I don't even crave the stuff very often any more.

Time to go for another run...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

California Dreaming

Sitting here...

Wishing I could be there...

It wasn't a bad weekend as far as workouts went. I did the 8 mile hike to Chasm Lake and the vertical, and it didn't bother me. Then Saturday I ran an hour, did a little lifting and core work, which has me sore today, but it's a good sore in the right places. My hamstring felt fine during the run, I only did 10 minute miles, and it was humid like Florida! I know that picking up the pace is not a good idea right now. But it was good to be able to do the run without a peep out of the hamstring.

Today when I got up, I did some more abdominal work that I didn't finish Saturday, and then I went for a 25 mile bike ride, without pushing the hills too hard. I decided to not run today and give the hamstring a break since I'd like to be able to run the next two days, for my sanity. I can run in the morning before work Monday and then Tuesday I'm off, so I figured this was a good time to rest it.

I won't have a lot of time to run this coming week and that will be good, it will force me to have another full week of down time from intense workouts. The hamstring has definitely improved and the groin does not seem to be any problem at all.

I was thrilled to read that Joe Fejes broke the Vol-State record, he ran the 314 miles across Tennessee in 3 days and 8 hours. Awesome job, Joe! And Lisa Smith-Batchen is doing a Badwater quadruple crossing this year. I know she'll enjoy every step of the way and do great.

Even if I'm not running Badwater, I always have the best time with the medical team, I am just as happy to do that instead of running the race. But I'm missing it, the magic of being there in that spectacular place, in that huge space surrounded by colorful rocks, cradled by salt flats, and covered by blue sky in the day and mind-blowing stars at night.

I really do wish everyone a fantastic time and that everyone has the fun, memorable, and safe race experience they worked so hard to achieve. It's painful to not be there, because I know how I feel every time I am there, and also how motivated and inspired I feel every time I come back. It always helps me put things back in their proper perspective.

Each time I come back from Death Valley, being surrounded by so many strong, positive, enthusiastic and supportive people, I realize again that the little stupid things we deal with day to day, like the pettiness of people who have no life outside of their power-grabbing, insecurity-induced fears, and relationally aggressive habits, are not what life is about.

There are so many of those people, who often rise to the just the right place and become roadblocks in their desperation to maintain control behind masks and facades that attempt to hide their self-loathing misery. If you're not careful, their sociopathic cruelty, lack of empathy and insensitivity can stop you in your tracks and make you question your entire purpose for going forward and existing.

This is a fact of life and the working world, unfortunately, it happens everywhere. But I find it awfully ironic that nurses do this to each other, and they're probably among the worst! So next time you hear someone refer to nurses as angels, not only is that a rather backward, sexist comment, but it's also as far from the truth as you can get. No, nurses are not angels. Many of them are hard-working, intelligent, kind people with good hearts who sincerely care to help other people, but there are enough mean girls out there to more than make up for the good intentions of any halo-sporting people in scrubs. Don't be fooled.

Life is about enjoying what you do. You have to be happy. It's important to be in a non-toxic environment, around people who are happy and secure enough in themselves that they don't play games. People who can feel joy in other people's successes, and can continue to believe in themselves without feeling like someone else's success somehow takes away from theirs. That is what is so great about ultrarunning, the supportive environment of athletes who understand that we're all just trying to do the best that we can as individuals, and that is what contributes to the positive energy that helps others push themselves to greater achievements.

Badwater is something I really need for my head right now. But I'll have to be content with what is. I go back tomorrow to work, and I'll be doing 5 shifts over the next 7 days, which will likely kill me, but in case I don't die, someone please put me out of my misery the following week, when I'm trying to recover from it. I just hope that they have plenty of support available through the entire week for all this new computer stuff. After a month I imagine it will become routine.

I can always have escape fantasies about Death Valley. Instead of driving down Lemay Avenue, I can be driving down this road.

It's been a quiet, low-key weekend. It rained some, and it got humid. Better than the bone-dry weather we had the past few years.

When the sky looks like this, Isabelle hides out in the woman cave.

Dennis was busy working on the area where we will be putting raised beds for the garden. He was practicing for when we go to Manhattan Beach, working on his tan and beefing up his runner's body for the Cuervo girls.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Peaceful Morning at Chasm Lake

At 4:30 am I knew I needed to take advantage of the day. I tried to go to bed early last night but couldn't fall asleep and was up until past 11 pm. I set my alarm for 4:30 so I'd get up in time to get to the Longs Peak Trailhead before the whole world arrived.
I almost fell back to sleep when the alarm went off, but I did make myself get up. It only took an hour to get from my house to the trailhead. Just before I turned off highway 7 to the Longs Peak road, there was this huge elk that crossed the road. I pulled over and took a few pictures.
I started out walking on the trail, I needed to figure out right away if my hamstring was even going to tolerate it. But there was not a peep out of the hamstring or the groin, and I began to jog the flat sections, being careful on the steep parts to not overstride.
When I got to the junction of the Chasm Lake/Granite Pass trail I decided to go to Chasm Lake, because there was less vertical involved, and I didn't want to overdo it.
I took a ton of pictures on the way up, the morning was cloudy, but the sun came out enough that the light was constantly changing, I wished I had been able to drag myself up earlier and catch the sunrise.
I continued along the trail to Chasm Lake and at one point I could see the waterfall between Chasm and Peacock Lakes, and so far there were plenty of wildflowers, but nothing breathtaking. Suddenly I turned a corner and there was a whole hillside full of freshly blooming columbines!
Fortunately there were not a lot of people out this morning, I needed the peace more than anything. There was one loud and obnoxious group of young boys below Chasm Lake but once I got to the lake I couldn't hear them anymore. I had the lake to myself. When I got to the end of the trail before the final climb up to the lake, which is slightly more technical than running, but slightly less technical than bouldering, that was the challenge for my body. Once I felt my groin and a couple of times I felt the hamstring as I climbed up the rocks, gripping small ledges with my hands. But it was nothing that lasted, it was just an awareness of these vulnerable places in my body.
I think it was a total of 8 miles and maybe 2400 feet of climb and the same of descent. Not much, but enough to challenge my flatland-acclimatized body. The hardest part of the whole thing was whenever I get on rocky stretches of trail and something causes my ankle to twist, causing eversion of my ankle, I am in serious pain. And it happens a lot on trails. That peroneal tendon injury is still there, but at least I don't feel it on the flats and running smooth surfaces anymore, but rocky trails kill me. Just a small twist is excruciating. I wonder if that's a permanent thing or if I can rehab it further. I hate to think my trail running days or even hiking days are over.

I was out for about 4 hours and I took a gazillion pictures.

This weekend it seems like everyone is at Badwater, Hardrock, or Vol State. This was my wimpy attempt to have my own little adventure run, a measly 8 miles, before I go back to work Monday for a week of way too many hours and who knows what chaos will ensue with the new computer system, which goes live tomorrow.

I'm feeling better about things psychologically. I've done a lot of talking with trusted friends and colleagues the past few weeks. As one of my nurse friends pointed out, there is a lot of physical, mental, and spiritual abuse that goes on in nursing. It's something you have to come to grips with if you're going to stay in the profession, and decide what you're willing and not willing to tolerate. And that's really what I've been struggling with. Right now it's more in the spiritual realm for me, though 12 hour shifts make it feel physically abusive to my body and definitely aggravate all the other factors.

And my friend Chris who has been my nursing mentor since the day I started, reminded me that it's good practice to let go on a daily basis.
I need some balance back, and I think I needed more of a break from running than I gave myself. Jumping into June with 2 marathons, even as easy training runs, was not the best idea. I can tell because I am enjoying the little forced break from running, I have not been obsessed at all with maintaining fitness at an intense level. One more week of extra time at work, and then I can recover and move on with my own stuff.

Maybe all the little aches and pains will disappear then.